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Hardships In O Pioneer Essay

1063 words - 4 pages

Hardships in O Pioneer

During the middle to late 1800's, thousands upon thousands of Americans, as well as foreigners, flocked to the mid-western part of the United States. They flocked to this area hoping to gain free or cheap land promised to them by the United States Government. Most of the "pioneers" left cities and factory jobs to venture out into the American prairies and become farmers. They left their homes, not only because the land was either free or cheap, but also because they wanted to leave the hardships of city life. However, as most would find out, prairie life had its' share of hardships, that far out-reached the hardships of city life. Among these hardships were the death of siblings and friends due to starvation and/or hard work. Pioneers also had to face the stresses and burdens of trying to make a living off of the land. Along with these stress's, they had to worry about how to make money off of the land. All of these hardships, as well as others, were portrayed in Willa Cather's "O' Pioneers".
In the beginning of the novel, we meet the Bergson family. As one reads the beginning chapters of the novel, one learns that the Bergson family has dealt with an awful toll on the family. They lost two children in between the births of Lou and Oscar. Not only did they lose two children, who they surely loved dearly, they lost a herd of cattle to a blizzard. They lost a very important plowing horse to a broken leg. They lost their hogs due to cholera. They also lost an important breeding stallion. All of these hardships occurred within a relatively short time of eleven years. Then at the end of chapter two, the Bergson's lost the head of their family in John. With the loss of the father, the family had to undertake the stresses and burdens of supporting themselves. As one reads the remainder of the novel, one learns that the Bergson's lost their friends in Marie, their own family member in Emil, and another friend in Amedee.
After John died, the family divided the land into three parts. These three parts went to Alexandra, Lou, and Oscar. All three had difficulties within the first couple of years. It even got to the point to where they were discussing the idea of leaving and going back home. They discussed this idea because the land they were living on was not producing much for them and money was very hard to earn. Cather stated in Chapter two that John Bergson "spent his first five years on the Divide getting into debt, and the last six getting out." After John died, the rest of the family took on the responsibility of repaying this debt. However, by the end of the novel, the land had become very fertile and hearty and they were able to make a living off of it. But most pioneers during this time were not so lucky. Some died of starvation. Some returned to the...

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